Different Layers of International Patent Systems
A patent is a type of intellectual property that gives its owner the legal right to exclude others from making, using, or selling an invention for a limited period of years, in exchange for publishing an enabling public disclosure of the invention.

What is an International Patent System?

The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) helps applicants in looking for patent protection internationally for their inventions, assists patent workplaces with their patent giving choices, and works with the community to an abundance of specialized data identifying with those creations. 

By recording one international patent application under the PCT, candidates can at the same time look for protection for an innovation in countless nations.

Aims of the International Patent System 

The system should effectively serve the public interest (both right holders and society)

Fundamental features

Credible timely grant and improved quality/validity of patents.

Functional rational use of resources improved access to patent system, including access to patent information (costs).

Acceptable to accommodate different economic and social conditions and interests, without foreclosing further development. 

Different Layers of International Patent System

There are different Layers of patent systems, depending upon the office at which the application is filed, that application could either be an application for a patent in a given country or maybe an application for a patent in a range of countries.

The former is known as "national (patent) application", and the latter as "regional (patent) application''. 

There are national, regional, and international patent systems for filing patent applications in many countries.

#1 National Applications

National applications are generally filed at a national patent office, such as the United Kingdom Patent Office, to obtain a patent in the country of that office. The application may either be filed directly at that office or may result from a regional application or an international application under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), once it enters the national phase.

#2 Regional Applications

A regional patent application may affect a range of countries. The European Patent Office (EPO) is an example of a Regional patent office. The EPO grants patents which can take effect in some or all countries contracting to the European Patent Convention (EPC), following a single application process.

Filing and prosecuting an application at a regional granting office is advantageous as it allows patents in many countries to be obtained without having to prosecute applications in all of those countries. The cost and complexity of obtaining protection are therefore reduced.

#3 International Application (Under the Patent Cooperation Treaty)

The patent cooperation treaty (PCT) is operated by World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and provides a centralized application process, but patents are not granted under the treaty.

The PCT system enables an applicant to file a single patent application in a single language. The application, called an international application, can, at a later date, lead to the grant of a patent in any of the states contracting to the PCT. 

WIPO, or more precisely the International Bureau of WIPO, performs many of the formalities of a patent application in a centralized manner, therefore avoiding the need to repeat the steps in all countries in which a patent may ultimately be granted. 

The WIPO coordinates searches performed by any one of the International Searching Authorities (ISA), publishes the international application, and coordinates preliminary examinations performed by any one of the International Preliminary Examination Authorities (IPEA). Steps such as naming inventors and applicants, and filing certified copies of priority documents can also be done centrally, and need not be repeated.

The main advantage of proceeding via the PCT route is that the option of obtaining patents in a wide range of countries is retained. While the cost of a large number of applications is deferred. In most countries, if a national application succeeds, damages can be claimed from the date of the international application’s publication.